In an apparent move to quell dissidence in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on Thursday expanded his ministry by inducting rebel legislator M P Renukacharya into his cabinet.
With his induction as a minister, the strength of the ministry has risen to 34.
Renukacharya, prominent among the dissidents who questioned Yeddyurappa's leadership, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Karnataka Governor H R Bharadwaj at a brief ceremony in Bangalore.
Renukacharya, who faces criminal charges in a sexual harassment case, said he had been inducted with the blessings of senior leaders and that he would endeavour to work for his constituency in particular and the state in general. He said he had not been alloted any portfolio, but would diligently carry out the work entrusted to him.
The swearing-in ceremony of the MLA, representing Honalli in Davanagere district, was witnessed among others by ministers K S Eswarappa and Aravind Limbavali.
The induction of Renukacharya, who supported the oust Yeddyurappa campaign conducted by the Reddy brothers - tourism minister Janardhana Reddy and Revenue Minister Karunakara Reddy last month, was opposed by some. However, the chief minister ignored their protests.
Renukacharya, who had been eyeing the vacant slot after the resignation of V Somanna following his defeat in the Assembly polls, had mobilised disgruntled MLAs on the eve of the legislature session to meet their demands.
Though the demand to accommodate more leaders was not met, Yeddyurappa, according to party sources, had assured some legislators and independents that they would subsequently be on corporations and statutory boards. The temporary truce has been perceived by some in BJP as a victory for the dissidents, who have forced the chief minister for the second time to induct a rebel leader.
Former speaker Jagadish Shettar was accommodated earlier in an attempt to placate rebels.
Renukacharya shot into the limelight following complaint by a nurse who alleged he had been sexually harassing and threatening her. The case has been pending since 2007.
He was also in the news over his alleged controversial statement during the election campaign that the heads of those opposed to Hindutva should be chopped off.
His statement embarrassed the BJP, and the party tried to distance itself from the statement at that time.